Calendula is one of my absolute favourite flowers to grow in the garden. I could probably say that about all my flowers – I do love them all! – but calendula definitely deserves its place in my top 5. It’s beautiful, easy to grow, has a long blooming season, is easy to save seeds from, and contains medicinal qualities! Here’s how to harvest and dry calendula for use in recipes.
I’ve used calendula in the past to make calendula oil, shortbread and calendula cream, but that was from store-bought, pre-dried calendula petals. I haven’t used calendula that I’ve grown, harvested and dried myself in recipes or DIY products yet, so this is my first time using homegrown calendula!
It’s such a money saver to grow and dry your own calendula, as the petals – especially good quality and organic petals – can be fairly pricey. What’s more, they’re just beautiful to have growing in the garden, and come in different shades of orange and yellow!
Before we get started in learning how to dry calendula flowers – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my email newsletter at the bottom of the page to keep up to date on the latest recipes, DIYs, gardening and health tips I share!!
How to Dry Calendula Flowers
Here’s how to dry calendula flowers at home:
1. Harvest the Flowers
First, you want to collect the calendula blossoms you’ll be using.
The best time to harvest calendula flowers is in the morning, after the dew has dried. They’re fresh, opening towards the sun, and don’t have wet petals. You also want to collect the blossoms when they’re half-open, because soon after this point, they begin to open more, and move past their prime medicinal time, where the petals begin to wither.
To harvest, gently snip off the flower head at the top of the stalk using scissors. You can also collect the leaves for use in recipes, as they contain much of the same medicinal qualities as the flowers. Trim back the stem that remains on the plant once you’ve collected the flower, so that it doesn’t start to rot.
Now, if you don’t harvest the flower blooms, they’ll simply die back on their own, and go to seed. If you want to collect the seeds to plant next season, monitor the flowers and collect the ripe seeds when they’ve turned brown, not green. Pop the seeds into a brown paper bag, write the date and what’s inside on it, then store them somewhere dry and out of the way – preferably in a dark, dry place at room temperature – to use when ready!
2. Dry the Flowers
There are many ways to do this, but the basic principle is to provide good airflow/circulation as well as protect the petals from too much sunlight. Do not wash the flower heads. Spread them out on a ventilated surface: cheesecloth, screen or a mesh of some kind. You can even build drying screens from light timber with a screen tied between ― simply make a frame and staple the screen to it (you can make multiple screen layers to create more space to dry the petals).
Another method is to use a dehydrator. This is my preferred method for drying herbs and flowers from the garden, as it means I can do it indoors. Dehydrate the flowers at a temperature of around 32°C-35°C (90°F-95°F). You don’t want to expose these flowers to too much direct heat, as it can reduce a lot of their health properties.
To dry, spread out the heads (or just the petals) face down on a clean dishtowel, cheesecloth, sheet, newspaper, old window screen stretched between two chairs, or dehydrator. Oven drying is not recommended. If using a dehydrator, set the temperature to around 32°C-35°C (90°F-95°F). If air drying, turn them over every so often, and make sure to keep them out of direct sunlight.
3. Store the Flowers
Wait until they’re completely dry before storing, otherwise they will go mouldy. They’re finished when they look fragile, crispy and very dry; like crepe paper.
The flower head dries at a much slower rate than the petals. So, if you’re going to store the heads whole, allow extra time for the green parts to dry, too.
To store, keep the dried calendula in glass jars with airtight seals in a dark cupboard or pantry. Label and date all your flowers, then they’re ready for use in recipes and DIY’s!
As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products. I am not a doctor. All opinions expressed are my own personal thoughts and feelings of the products mentioned. Check with your doctor or health practitioner if you are uncertain about trying out any of the products, recipes or tips mentioned in this post.
Have you made calendula oil or other recipes with calendula before? Share in the comments below.
Lots of love,
Arcuri, Lauren. (Updated: September 17, 2020). How to Harvest and Dry Calendula. The Spruce. Retrieved from https://www.thespruce.com/harvest-and-dry-calendula-3016611
Mrs. Homegrown. (March 15, 2011). Harvesting and Drying Calendula. Root Simple. Retrieved from https://www.rootsimple.com/2011/03/harvesting-and-drying-calendula/
Deanna. (June 17, 2019). All About Calendula: How to Grow, Harvest, Dry, & Use Calendula Flowers. Homestead and Chill. Retrieved from https://homesteadandchill.com/all-about-calendula/
5 Ways to Preserve and Use Calendula Flowers. Joybilee Farm. Retrieved from https://joybileefarm.com/calendula-flowers/
Dry Calendula Flowers & Make Calendula Oil. Family, Food + Garden. Retrieved from https://www.familyfoodgarden.com/how-to-dry-calendula-flowers-make-calendula-oil/